PHOTO CREDIT: Tom Dent
Bread Alone is available at:
16th February, 2017
DESPITE the fact my featured artist has few original images…
online, his music does a lot of talking. I will make a (late) resolution this year to feature fewer artists that have capitalised names – names that demand attention, apparently! Lorne/LORNE is not to blame because, to be fair, there is a lot to shout about when it comes to his songs. I shall come on to that later, but, for the moment, wanted to look at a few things. I will look back at London and singer-songwriters; piano and instruments that add to the atmosphere; Berkshire and areas outside the capital; comparisons to legendary songwriters – a little bit on biblical references in songs and complexities that can be explored through music. I shall start by looking at London and why it is such an attractive location for songwriters. Despite the fact Lorne (going to stick to the lower-case if that is okay?!) is originally from Berkshire; he is not based in London and inspired by the city. There is something endlessly fascinating about London and why it pulls musicians in. We all know about the downsides and struggles of the city: the cost of living and the sheer number of people; how competitive it can be and the struggles we all face there. It is a place I gravitate towards because of that music industry. You go from area-to-area and there is always a different vibe and neighbourhood. You could spend a day idling around Brick Lane and Spitalfields and you’d be compelled to put pen to paper. Sift through Knightsbridge and the polished, multi-million-pound properties and something else; to the summery vibes of Hyde Park and the reality and working-class elements of Woolwich. I bring this up because it seems Lorne is drawn to the people and sense of reality in London. I do worry the city is becoming too gentrified for the sake of profit and not offending the eye – becoming too middle-class and losing a certain authenticity and identity. I have just seen a survey/poll that ranks Peckham as the best place to live in London.
These things are often subjective – the algorithms are a little strange at times – but that area of South London has grown from desolate and dangerous part of the city – the image of Del Boy and tower blocks spring to mind – to someone cleaner, safer and much more welcoming. It is an area of London that is gentrified and much more sanitised. Why this is good for some reasons, it does sort of turn London into Disneyland. We can’t really beautify and polish every area because it seems a bit unpredictable or dirty. The wrong sort of people is coming to London and wanting it all nice and inoffensive. I feel musicians, unlike residents, are magnetised to London for very different reasons. They are able to find the core and true identity of the city. They connect with all the people and diversity that makes the city what it was – and what it should be now. I’ll move onto my next point but am keen to preserve London and ensure it does not lose what makes it special and so interesting. It is musicians keeping that heritage and history alive. Lorne is someone who looks around the boroughs and corners of London: he connects with the streets, the cafes and the conversations and pours this onto the page. London is continuing to grow and develop by the day. New people are coming in and there is always something to do. I can understand why so many musicians come here. There are opportunities and places to play; fantastic sights and areas to compel the mind; a real pride among the citizens. Among the most cosmopolitan and multi-diverse areas of the U.K., it is a wonderful city to reside in. Sure, there is costs and gentrification but there are still parts of London that remain loyal to the roots. Musicians are arriving in the capital and creating some exceptional music. That community and competition are seeing London-based music evolve and blossom. Years ago, I was a little wary and felt too many new acts lacked that necessary spark. Now, it seems like originality and variegation are back. The new bands are sticking in the mind and there is a huge rise in quality solo artists – duos are increasing and among the best in the world. Lorne brings his talents to London and feeds from the stories and sounds of the city.
PHOTO CREDIT: Tom Dent
Before I do progress, it is worth mentioning counties like Berkshire that a lot of musicians are moving from. I know quite a few artists around Reading and surrounding areas that connect with the local scene but appreciate that proximity to London. Past review subjects like Signal – a young Hip-Hop star – has been championed by local radio but definitely feels there is a bigger audience in London. True, Reading has some great venues and a lot of musicians there but there is a limited. One of the great things, from the viewpoint of Lorne, is he’s nice and close to London. You can hop a train or embark on a short drive. It would be nice to think funding can be given to areas outside London to ensure musicians remain but the truth is the larger cities provide chances and finance towns don’t. Berkshire is one of those counties where you have one or two big cities but the remainder of the county is quite sparse. I feel one of the reasons artists move from home and set up stall in London is because of the press. The local press is, by and large, quite an amateurish affair. Newspapers and radio stations are largely unspectacular – bar one or two here and there – and there is a certain risibility to them. No matter how passionate the journalists and D.J.s are, the listenership is going to be quite constricted. London is a different affair. I hear acts being heard by BBC Radio 1 and 2; ‘6 Music is the most reputable and fashionable station – the local radio stations can be quite influential. The same can be said of Manchester and, say, Glasgow: some big stations and media outlets can help bring a band/artist to the consciousness. My point relates to Lorne in the sense he has come to London to ensure his music gets proper focus and exposure.
Whilst it is laudable so many musicians are coming to London one wonders whether there is enough space and spaces to accommodate the fleet. The live circuit is just about hanging on and sustainable; living costs are high so it means artists are tightening their budgets in other areas – regular gigs ensure they are able to merely survive let alone make a profit. Whilst I am a little late to the party of Bread Alone – scheduling and being busy has meant this is the first time I can get to it – it is a song that deserves, and has gained, radio-play and some great reviews. One of the great things about London, as opposed to the other places, is the sheer volume of the press – from Internet blogs to local rags. There is always someone willing to write a few column-inches and spin your music. Lorne is jumping into a city that is bursting at the seams but worry not: his music is certainly in the top percentile. There are so many underrated and fantastic artists (like him) who will gain proper respect down the line. One of the things that grips me about him is how he has adapted to the city. Hailing from Berkshire, he is practically on London’s doorstep but has not just come to London and adapted his music to marketing tastes and demands of the charts. He knows what the people want and how to succeed. Writing deep, evocative and interesting songs is just what the capital, and music, demands. I am getting tired of the lazy and inauthentic songwriters who are parroting what’s currently polluting the charts. True, you are guaranteed market share and a certain amount of people but it is a cheap and easy way of doing things. Those musicians who provide something personal and unexpected deserve a lot more acclaim than they get.
I was excited to look at Lorne because he subverts expectations about male singer-songwriters. I have been on my high-horse about the solo genre and how women are outdoing the men. The reason I came to this conclusion (other than the fact it is true) is because of originality and strength. I find too many male solo artists are samey and blending into one another. Perhaps too single-minded in regards chart success or marketability; I am always more indebted to the girls of music and how they push boundaries. Between them, all around the world, one finds more excitement, colour and prospect. It may seem like a generalisation but it is especially true of London artists. Lorne is a musician who makes me feel the boys are on the resurgence. He is not someone who wants to be the next Ed Sheeran or whoever – there are plenty contended to pick up an acoustic guitar and strum about any old shite. His music is among the richest and sophisticated I have encountered in a long time. Piano-heavy songs like Bread Alone are quite hard to pull off. Many new artists will throw electronics and elements into the blender in an attempt to drown with sound. Assuming noise and sonic activity will create something interesting and universal – a faulty syllogism if ever I saw one – creating something subtler is a lot trickier. Lorne is someone who takes instruments like strings and piano and adds and elegance and atmosphere to his songs. At times romantic and graceful; more bracing and forceful the next – somebody who can create extraordinary templates with very little volume and accentuation. He is inspired by songwriters such as Kate Bush, Elbow and Radiohead so it is no surprise those kind of acts feed into his work. If you take an album from each of them – Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love; Elbow’s The Seldom Seen Kid and Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool – one experiences a wealth of music and so many different emotions. From Bush’s Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God) to Elbow’s Starlings; through to Radiohead’s Daydreaming – a cornucopia of brilliance, orchestration and emotion. I can hear timbres of Kate Bush, in terms of musicality, and some of Elbow’s most swooning and cinematic moments; coupled with Radiohead’s finer tracks.
What Lorne does is take little bits from his idols and blends it with his own upbringing and mindset. That fusion and compositional sound make tracks like Bread Alone such a wonderful thing. I am doing it a disservice but feel it is becoming rare finding musicians who take the time to create wonderful, soul-nourishing compositions. I’ll come back to that later – along with some other points – but wanted to look at Lorne in the context of the songwriters he has been compared with. It may be a while since we have heard from Damien Rice (where did HE go to?!) but there have been many commentators making that link. More impressively, Ben Howard has been mentioned as a possible comparable – a modern songwriter who is underrated but hugely influential. Even heroes like Peter Gabriel have been tied to Lorne. Those sort of comparisons is not rash and misinformed. One hears shades of each in terms of quality and that tremulousness. In my mind, Lorne is quite similar to Peter Gabriel and his early-career work. Lorne’s E.P., Maze, is out very soon and will provide an opportunity for the music world to discover someone rare and familiar. One hears his music and is transported into a safe world that makes you think. Songs like Bread Alone, I shall come to soon, are intelligent and philosophical but provide a warm blanket one can wrap around themselves. You get that quality and conviction usually reserved to the legends of songs. More interestingly, one hears that hard-to-nail blend of rousing and minimal. There is a spirited and passionate performance but the composition never gets in your grill. Instead, it has the majesty and dignity to work expeditiously and create necessary shivers. As I said, that is a hard blend to get together and make work. I am impressed by Lorne’s musicianship and how he can effectively match contrasts without sounding undisciplined and scattershot. Bread Alone is a perfect example of shimmering, sometimes epic compositional notes with powerful lyrics messages.
I shall get down to investigating Lorne’s current track in a minute but, for the moment, wanted to look at rare inspirations behind songs. Bread Alone has a biblical tie but has its heart in the everyday. It is easy to see Bread Alone as a reflection of its title: just living and existing for sustenance and foodstuff. It seems we all need a higher purpose and something more fulfilling than the average work day. So many songs are obsessed with the heart (or the genitalia) so it is a rarity finding a songwriter who addresses something more inspiring. That is a word I am bringing in quite a bit. Yes, you can find modern musicians who inspire the mind but it is becoming more difficult to find. I always prefer songs that sidestep the obvious and document shared experiences. I will dissect Bread Alone soon but am fascinated by that central idea: there is something more important we need to find to make us whole. Whether it is love, music or a warm seat on the bus: it doesn’t have to be anything big. We all, myself included, get caught in the suffocation of a mundane nine-to-five existence: we return home and sit; rarely engaging with anyone else or doing anything that makes us feel better. We are told life is short so it seems necessary to take advantage of that window and embrace something big. It is an idea we can all get behind and approve on. With singers like James Blake providing minimal-evocative gem; it is a great time for Lorne to enter music. Blake’s music is celebrated because of its incredible sound combinations and evocativeness; the way he writes about the world around him and has that original lyrical palette.
When Maze does arrive, I am sure it will be met with great interest. Lorne is one of those songwriters who cannot just write about what everyone else is saying. Living somewhere like London, there is a certain sense of being trapped and part of that rat-race. Bread Alone is inspired by that biblical passage that says man shall not live by bread alone: the song takes that and applies it to a modern-day setting. Not necessarily suggesting spiritual plains and salvation: there is that need to take from life something that makes you a better, more rounded human. It is a complex issue that means different things to different people. Looking at loss and seizing the day; it is encouraging seeing an artist, with his debut single no less, coming in that strong. I have reviewed many artists (of lesser quality) who have had their music celebrated by national radio. I know stations and D.J.s are turning onto the song and showing some interest in Lorne. I know that will expand and augment as the E.P. arrives and takes hold. We should always nurture and encourage those musicians that make you think. I’ll finish this section by speaking a bit about the challenges for new musicians and expending some patience. I mentioned earlier how it is a very busy market and competitive at the moment. Every week, there are countless songwriters entering music from different directions. Those genuinely good and promising – perhaps subjective but the point stands – do often have to wait a little to get success. There is a battle between commercial artists and those who favour quality over quick returns. Lorne is one of those musicians who pride quality and nuance over profitability and the charts. Many artists are being deterred and leaving music because it takes so long to get just dues and respect. I would urge Lorne to stay strong and keep making music. There are a lot of great artists out there but that does not mean he will have to wait THAT long before he finds success. London is the perfect city to play and, I am sure, international recognition will come soon enough.
Lorne has performed cover versions in the past and is adept at handling other people’s songs. The personality and perspective he brings to these tracks have given him the confidence to press on with his own music. You can hear that confidence right from the opening notes of Bread Alone. I know the track has been out a little while now but it is one that has been taken to heart by many people. The opening piano notes are tender and reflective in equal measures. It is quite a spirited start that gets the listener braced and ready. The notes fly and trip as one imagines moonlight and the unexpectedness of the night: what it can offer and what goes on when the curtains are drawn. Not that the piano is ever edgy or dark: it has a rush and excitement that wills the imagination to project and run. When Lorne does come to the microphone, he talks about leaving town and getting away. The hero has to depart and go somewhere new. I started this piece but looking at the depth some songwriters expend; how songs look beyond issues of love and reflect that desire to seek something bigger. It seems, to Lorne, there is a need to start again and shake off something unfamiliar and worn. The faces, in his town, do not look the same; they are not what they were and causing this movement. Backed by that loyal and hard-hitting piano, Lorne’s voice is deep and powerful. I get shades of everyone from Hossier to Depeche Mode in the timbre and sound of that voice but it sounds like it stems from a man putting all his emotion and soul on the line – a gripping and captivating sound that stops you and forces one to listen. I am not sure how much is culled from real-life, yet Lorne seems to be reflecting on a time that was quite strange and disruptive for him. Maybe he is referring to his hometown: someone he thought familiar and safe but has changed beyond recognition.
The voices are not the same and it appears everything has moved on. I am unsure whether a romantic attachment is in mind but there seems to be that suggestion lingering. Maybe someone he was very close to has taken a different course in life and that has caused upset and confusion. Lorne’s voice is always powerful and immediate but has that ability to reveal sentiments and secrets the more you hear the song. It is rare finding a voice as appealing and varied in modern music. That simple piano backing gives Bread Alone a sombre quality but a sense of hope and beauty. You feel attached to the song and root for the hero. At this stage in the song, it is not clear whether he has actually abandoned town or whether he is contemplating it. It is interesting dissecting the words and seeing the meaning behind them. As the chorus comes in, things start to reveal themselves; the song becomes clearer and you understand where Lorne is coming from. He cannot leave on bread alone and has had to make this decision. Perhaps, in musical terms, it is a documentation of his movement from Berkshire to London: having to go to the big city to get those opportunities and musical chances. Maybe it is just a point in life where getting by was not an option. We have all been in that situation where we’ve had to sublimate and go from somewhere we were settled into a bigger, better place. Lorne takes things in his stride but one hears a sense of sadness in the tones. Maybe that is just the effect of the time: not sure what the future holds but determined to tackle it. A sense of relief comes into the voice as the decision has been made. It is now the time to strike and take a big leap; get up and make those changes. It is an inspiring message for many out there who will be in the same position. It is easy, once you do it, acclimatising to a new way of life: making that choice and forcing yourself to do it in the first place is the hardest thing.
The more the song goes on, the more you bond to the hero and his plight. Lorne has watched moons “wax and wane” and squandered the moments. He has hesitated before and not really taken risks. That moment threatened to pass (and Lorne) was well aware of the preciousness of time. Again, I think about music and whether there is a nod to that transition period – leaving home and going to London to make music. It is a theme that will reflect with many musicians and has quite a traditional, classical heart. That idea of making the big-city move is one steeped in cinematic legend and literary heroes – all seeking a better life and a chance for improvement. In a wider, less personal sense, the messages through Bread Alone can be extrapolated by all. You feel anyone who needs to make a chance will pick up on the lyrics and their meanings. I guess, when things get to a certain point, it seems there is no option but many of us get too comfortable in our ruts – doing that can lead to missed opportunity and a life of regret. Lorne knows this and has taken the decision to become proactive. The underlying message in the song is not messing things up. The hero has to take this moment but cannot afford to be back where he is (on worse). It is a sentiment delivered with as much vulnerability and emotion as I have heard in a long time. As a whole, Bread Alone marks a big move for Lorne. He is writing from his own perspective – rather than covering songs – and proves he is fully-formed and stunning right from the off. I would love to see this determination carry on. Maze is his E.P. and will show he is one of the keenest talents in new music. That tremulous voice and exceptional musical command stand him in good stead – there are few quite as strong as him out there right now.
I’ll return to my original points in a bit but am looking ahead at Lorne’s year. Bread Alone has been out there for a little bit so will already be in the minds of many. With the consumer having a pretty short attention span, they are always looking for a new fix and something new – I blame the rise of social media and lack of human contact. People are hunting for fresh music so Lorne will be keen to get the E.P. out. When Maze comes, it will further his cause as one of the more interesting songwriters in the country. I am quite lucky I get to see some great musicians come through before they get to the mainstream. The male songwriter market is very full but, in terms of quality, there are few that genuinely shine. Lorne shows all the promise and heart of someone who wants to remain in music. More music will certainly keep Lorne in the mindset and make him accessible to new fans and labels/radio etc. It is the festival season and so many different acts are polishing amps and stringing guitars – it is all about to begin. Lorne, owing to his style of music, might not be looking at the big stages just yet but has that in mind I am sure. He is a brilliant and original songwriter that deserves wider acclaim. I would like to see more work from him and keeping busy. I say this about so many artists but it’d be good to see more in the way of social media output – photos especially and some more updates. I know he is keen to promote his work but more work on visuals and pictures would be nice. He is an accessible artist who has plenty of ambition and a lot of talent. In the coming months, he will be promoting his work and performing but you wonder how the future will work out. I feel he will be one of those acts who sort of bubble in the underground and comes to the mainstream a little way down the line – like all the best and most promising musicians.
I shall cap this all off by looking at the original points I made: themes about piano, instruments and atmosphere; London and the draw for singer-songwriters; comparisons to legendary songwriters and a bit about deep and meaningful song subjects. London, despite its recent troubles and turbulence, is one of the most invigorating, busy and exciting cities in the world. It continues to pull in musicians around the world and excite new generations. It is no surprise considering the depths and avenues one can explore. In terms of music venues, there are more here than any other city in the U.K. It is a natural hub for musicians and whilst cities like Glasgow and Manchester are hugely important: few are quite as majestic and legendary as London. It is exciting and busy but offers tranquillity and peace – of you know where to find it! For me, it is a calling that appeals to the musical and imaginative side of my brain. There is so much to do and such a mixed population. You cannot be bored and always find some great music, somewhere. For Lorne, that all appeals to him and has reflected in his music. He is one of those artists looking to soak up the streets and word of the people: connect with humans around him and provide something meaningful. London is a perfect place to do that and one that will attract Lorne-like musicians down the ages. Coming from Berkshire, a great place for new talent, he has that local backing and acclaim. Most counties away from Greater London can be limited in regards opportunities. Sure, you get some great venues and artists but it can be rather crowded. Many musicians struggle to get heard and the crowds are a little patchy. You go to a city and you will always find people to hear your music: radio stations everywhere and so many great spots to perform.
As I said earlier, I have reviewed Berkshire musicians and they are always full of appreciation for the people there. Cities like Reading are up-and-coming and keeping natives firmly placed. That proximity to London is attractive so you find Berkshire musicians enjoying the best of both worlds. I can see the attraction of living and performing in London. You have that world on the doorstep and a first-hand taste of the nation’s best artists. Berkshire is a fertile and productive county but it is that accessibility to London that is seeing many of its musicians coming down here. Lorne has gained support from Berkshire stations etc. but is keen to expand and see his music picked up by the large and music-loving community of the capital. Bread Alone is a song filled with beauty, emotion and complexities. There are a simplicity and nakedness in the song which makes it thoroughly intriguing and nuanced. The piano stands out with its tenderness and innovation: it climbs and runs; soothes and implores at various interludes. The composition has an elegance and refinement but proper power and impetus. I hear a lot of songs that throw so many different elements in without a sense of purpose or musicality. It is a lot harder taking things down and make an effective composition that is minimal and bare. That is what has happened here. You immerse yourself in the composition and all the details. Nailing a composition and making it interesting (but not too forceful) is a hard trick to pull off. When I hear an interesting or beautiful composition – the intention of the artist – they can seem a little lacking and one-dimensional. Often, there is not enough fascination or depth – seeming a little insincere and simplistic. Lorne is a musician who knows how to resonate and connect through music.
I’ll leave this be in a moment but will finish about comparisons with legendary singers and how original lyrics can go a long way. Bread Alone, and that biblical connection looks at getting more from life: whether it is love or a pursuit; going beyond the dull and soulless rigour of the working day. It is a consideration we all need to take on board and something we can all benefit from. I am hearing more and more songwriters connect with the wider world and create songs that go beyond sex and pillow-talk. We need the continuation of the love song but that seems to be all new artists speak of. It can be rather predictable and selfish: what is wrong with writing something with a bit more intelligence and soul? Lorne raises questions and compels the listener look at their life – whether they are doing all they can and filling their days with potential. It means Bread Alone connects for many different reasons. You have that insightful and important message with the lustrous, emotive composition – there is that voice, of course. I have seen Lorne compared with songwriters Ben Howard and Peter Gabriel – the latter is a particular hero of his. That is no mean feat and one fully deserved. There are loads of new male songwriters; many have unfair attention and get compared with some genuinely wonderful artists. I feel critics and the media are too quick elevating musicians to these heights: it can give a false sense of potential that negatively impacts on their music. Lorne is someone taking it calmly but gathering some honest and obvious comparisons. He has that songwriting talent and ability to transcend ages, boundaries and genres. Bread Alone strikes on all front and marks him for big things. Maze is the latest E.P. and one that will take Lorne new places. The London-based artist is just starting his career but showing he has the potential and legs to continue for years to come. Bread Alone might seem like a solitary and lonesome title. When it comes to the meat and bones of the track, it is…
VERY much for everyone.